An article that states that, given an option, leaders should ask for forgiveness instead of permission.  This is especially true for people who are stepping up from a follower role into a leadership role.  This is a fundamental mindset shift that new leaders need to make.  Yes, you can still consult others (rarely is that a bad idea), but that should not result in inaction.  One caution, however – this does not mean that you can abuse your followers and ask for their forgiveness!

This premise has had a significant influence on my military career, and is related to empowerment.  Initiative at all levels is supported and encouraged, although it is bounded by the overarching vision (we would call it the Commander’s Intent).  The Commander can’t be everywhere, and can’t be called upon to make every decision – that’s why she trusts and empowers her followers to make decisions.  In other words, she trusts YOU to take action, and understands that you will occasionally make mistakes.  In turn, you are expected to give your intent to your followers, and expect them to display initiative.  This is a necessary step in developing your team to their greatest potential.  Empowering your team (and yourself) to take action also means that you can react quickly to changing circumstances; in business it may mean more customers and profits, and in the military that may mean survival.

A big challenge that you HAVE to overcome as a leader is that you need to acknowledge that you will make mistakes – they are inevitable!  You are the leader, however, and you need to make decisions and take action.  As long as you learn from those mistakes and don’t repeat them, I think that you will find that it gets easier to take action.

[pullquote]A big challenge that you HAVE to overcome as a leader is that you need to acknowledge that you will make mistakes – they are inevitable! [/pullquote]

Leaders: Get rid of the ‘Mother may I?’ mindset by Merge Gupta-Sunderji at The Globe and Mail on 8 January 2015.

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